Mother And Two Daughters Hand Themselves In Over Devastating Zoo Fire

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 02 Jan 2020 11:45
Several People Turn Themselves Into Police Over Devastating German Zoo FirePA Images

A group of New Year’s Eve revellers, who may be responsible for the fire that killed dozens of animals at a German zoo, have handed themselves in to police.

German authorities in Krefeld say several people are being investigated as possible causes of the fire after they admitted setting off Chinese lanterns, which are illegal in the region, on New Year’s Eve.


Five orangutans, a 48-year-old silverback gorilla and dozens of monkeys, fruit bats and birds were killed in the blaze which broke out in the first hour of the new year.

Krefeld ZooPA

Now, three people are said to be handed themselves in to police, with authorities said to be investigating on a single charge of ‘negligently criminal fire’, which has a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

According to the head of criminal police, Gerd Hoppmann, they found partly burned lanterns near the scene, some of which had handwritten notes on them, hinting as to where they had come from.


He said:

People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning.

Chinese lanterns are made out of paper and a naked flame in the bottom to make them fly and light up. They have been used in Asia for centuries, however they are illegal in this part of Germany.

Krefeld ZooPA Images

In an update from police, officers described the three suspects – believed to be a mother and her two grownup daughters – as ‘completely normal people who seemed very sensible, very responsible’.

Criminal police chief Gerd Hoppmann said it was ‘courageous’ of the women to hand themselves in, saving the police from a lengthy investigation. Hoppman added: ‘That is courageous. It stands for something that they handed themselves into the police like that. It is a decent thing to do and earns my respect.’

The suspects could face a prison sentence, or be hit with a heft fine. While the companies selling the illegal lanterns apparently provide no warning of the countries they are banned in

Horrifying photos reveal the extent of the damage inside the ape house, where just two chimpanzees were rescued alive yesterday (January 1).


Firefighters at the scene were fortunately able to stop the flames from spreading to other buildings at the zoo, however they were unable to save all animals trapped within the monkey enclosure.

Krefeld ZooPA Images

In a statement made via Facebook, a representative from Krefeld Zoo described the incident as an ‘unbelievable tragedy’:

Our worst fears have been realised. There are no surviving animals in the monkey sanctuary. The Gorilla Garden has been spared. Kidogo and his family are fine.

We thank you for all the numerous offers that have already reached us. Please understand that we [are] still in shock and [can] not tell exactly if and where need help.


Zoo director Wolfgang Dressen said it’s ‘close to a miracle’ that Bally, a 40-year-old female chimpanzee, and Limbo, a younger male, survived the blaze, as MailOnline reports.

Dressen continued:

We have to seriously work through the mourning process. This is an unfathomable tragedy.

The Krefeld zoo, which remains closed today, was first opened in 1975 and attracts around 400,000 visitors each year.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: News, Fire, Germany, zoo


  1. MailOnline

    New Year's Eve revellers who let off the illegal Chinese lanterns that burned down Krefeld Zoo monkey house in Germany – killing 30 chimpanzees and gorillas –have turned themselves into police